UPDATE 2-Million in Honduras and Nicaragua affected by regional blackout

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(Redesigns with new details)

TEGUCIGALPA, July 7 (Reuters) – A major blackout in Central America cut power to some 15 million residents on Wednesday, with the worst impact felt in Honduras and Nicaragua, according to regional power operator EOR, as efforts to rekindle the lights have been accelerated.

The two worst-affected countries have seen the power supply of nearly all residents “drop to practically zero volts,” Evelyn Flores, EOR’s communications manager, told Reuters.

The grid operator said the blackout started at 1:00 p.m. (19:00 GMT) but the specific cause and origin of the massive loss of electricity was still not determined.

Energy use fell from 8,300 megawatts to just 2,400 megawatts in the region, with the exception of Panama and Costa Rica, which were mostly untouched, EOR added.

The EOR provides electricity to around 47 million people in Central America, from Panama to Guatemala, which means nearly a third have faced a power outage.

The Brillantes power substation on the Mexican-Guatemalan border near the town of Tapachula suffered an interconnection outage at the same time, the Guatemalan deputy energy minister told Reuters, Manuel Eduardo Arita.

In Honduras, workers were gradually restoring electricity, which should be restored by the end of the afternoon, Luis Deras, director of the national electricity company ENEE, told local radio HRN. (Reporting by Gustavo Palencia in Tegucigalpa; Additional reporting by Nelson Renteria in San Salvador and Sofia Menchu ​​in Guatemala City; Writing by David Alire Garcia; Editing by Daina Beth Solomon, Aurora Ellis and Karishma Singh)


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